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Director of Health Services reprieved by new quarantine regulations 

Dr. Marvin Manzanero Belize

Posted: Tuesday, October 6, 2020. 11:50 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Tucked in at the very end of the new Statutory Instrument, Number 136 of 2020, is the announcement that the previous SI’s 126 and 134 are repealed. 

Included in the latter was a demand that Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, turn over to Attorney General and Minister of National Security Michael Peyrefitte, the full list of patients diagnosed with COVID-19, a list now numbering more than 2,200. 

Dr. Manzanero was also ordered to turn over separately, lists of persons asked to go into self-isolation and those placed in mandatory quarantine. Failure to do this would qualify as an offense. 

As of last week, Minister Peyrefitte said Dr. Manzanero was still obligated to turn over the list, pointing out that it had been agreed to by his direct supervisor, Minister of Health Pablo Marin. Peyrefitte went on to justify the demand for the list in the interest of national security, specifically enforcing regulations in joint concert with the Ministry of Health, and as a means of ensuring the safety of frontline workers in the Ministry of National Security. 

But Dr. Manzanero was unfazed, telling Channel 5 News on Friday that he has not turned over the list and will not unless S.I. 134 was reviewed. He added that “…it is not just a question of the patient and the ethical issue. There are so many things that are driving this: fear, stigmatization, handling of date. There are so many factors that need to be considered. It is not just saying no for no because you don’t want to give because there are many other things that you must consider.  We have been doing this for the last six months and we have been learning every day so we are taking I think the actions that we need to take in order to have a solid response. I don’t think we want to lose the credibility as the Ministry of Health, the trust of the system and we want to make sure that is safeguarded for the better interest of the patient.” He also indicated that people who suspect they are positive may refuse to be tested if their names are in the hands of the Ministry. 

Now, it appears he will not have to. The change was tellingly not included in the official summary provided by the Government which accompanied the S.I. 136 document. 

As for the rest of the changes, they have to do with re-establishing non-contact sports such as cricket, golf and table tennis; regulating exercise and tourism, including registration and use of hotel properties and reinforcing standard regulations on mask-wearing, social distancing, and prohibition of social activity except in groups smaller than ten. 

The S.I. went into effect on Friday, October 2. 


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